Monday, January 5, 2009

NPR on the Justice Department's Murals

National Public Radio is running a story today on the Depression-era murals in U.S. Department of Justice Building in Washington. The print version, with a slide show, commences:
The Justice Department headquarters building has more than 50 murals on its walls. Painted during the Great Depression, they aimed to show how law and justice could improve lives. As Justice Department tour guide Winifred Hart once put it, "We drip symbolism in this building. This building is a sermon, a hymn to justice."

That hymn includes verses that are progressive, controversial and even radical . . . .
The rest is here.

1 comment:

John Q. Barrett said...

The painter in the photograph is George Biddle. As TIME reported in 1936, his mural, entitled "The Sweatshop and Tenement of Yesterday Can Be the Life Planned with Justice of Tomorrow," depicts dozens of figures. One, the "ideal workman," has the face of George Biddle's brother Francis. When George was painting, Francis was serving as Chairman of the National Labor Relations Board. Later, after serving (briefly) as a Circuit Judge, Francis Biddle in 1940 became Solicitor General of the United States and, the next year, Attorney General of the United States. In other words, from 1940 until Biddle left office in summer 1945, one often could have found Francis Biddle's face both in a top DOJ office and, in paint, on the 5th floor hallway wall.